Six Nations: On-song Scots look for more X Factor hits to climb charts

Training incentive has paid off for Scott Johnson's side but Wales are on a run of away victories

It was not something that was greatly apparent 12 months ago, when they were en route to a Six Nations wooden spoon and whitewash – or in November, when they were getting turned over by Tonga in Aberdeen. Now, though, it is official: Scotland's got talent.

With back to back Six Nations wins under the Caledonian belt for the first time in 12 years, on the eve of Wales' visit to Murrayfield on the penultimate weekend of the 2013 championship, Scotland's defence coach Matt Taylor was asked what new measures had been taken to turn around the fortunes of a squad who were also whitewashed in the autumn. "One thing we've done is bring in an X Factor award," the former Scotland A forward and Queensland Reds coach replied. "It's an award for doing something special in a match – a try-saving tackle or getting back to help your mates.

"Sean Maitland won it against Ireland, for his ability to get back when the line was broken. The players get a green jersey to wear in training the next week. It's just another way of making the group work hard.

"We also have the PPP award – pressure, power, presence around the tackle area. We give a jersey with that on it, too. It's just trying to promote that defensive culture and the players' ability around the ball, which is something I've brought from the Reds. Kelly Brown won the PPP award against Ireland. He did really well."

Brown, Scotland's workaholic openside flanker and captain,had to do really well in around the tackle area against the Irish. His side had less than 30 per cent of possession and territory. That they managed to emerge 12-8 winners was to their considerable credit but they are unlikely to prosper again off starvation rations this afternoon.

Having got off to a false start with their 22-30 defeat against Ireland in Cardiff at the start of last month, Wales now have the scent of back-to-back titles in the Red Dragon nostrils, having won on the road in Paris and Rome. They are on a run of four away wins in the championship, a feat they last achieved in 1979. A fifth today would be an all-time record – and would put the title on the line when England visit the Welsh capital a week today.

The threat from a revived Wales team will certainly not be underestimated by the Aussie in temporary charge of the resurgent Scots. "They've probably been the form side in the northern hemisphere for the past four to five years," said Scott Johnson, who spent five years as Wales' skills coach and interim head coach. "And they've probably got their best team back. This is the pick of the litter."

Indeed, the reigning champions and 2012 Grand Slammers have the world-class Alun Wyn Jones back in harness in the second row. As in Rome two weeks ago, they will be looking to dominate up front, and for Dan Biggar and Mike Phillips to again pull the half-back strings in what are expected to be similarly precipitous conditions.

As for the Scots, who will have the tactical-kicking skills of Duncan Weir at outside-half, they will be looking to record a hat-trick of wins in the championship for the first time in the Six Nations era – the last occasion was the old Five Nations days of 1996. "All the players have been saying that we don't want the two wins to be a couple of flashes in the pan – a good win against Italy and a lucky win against Ireland," said outside centre Sean Lamont, who will be winning his 75th cap. "We need to back it up for it to mean something, to put us in with a chance of a good position in the final table when we go to Paris next week.

"Last year it was a horrible feeling to get whitewashed in the Six Nations. It was completely soul-destroying."

It was that. It was the kind of run that has players queuing up for the yellow "dunce's jersey" traditionally handed out in training in the oval-balled professional game.

"We don't have that here as yet," Taylor said. "It's something we might bring in."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea